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Fatal shooting in Manchester not the first incident of its kind for state trooper

Last modified: 10/3/2013 12:15:01 AM
The 45-year-old woman who died Monday in Manchester following a chaotic police chase was killed by a decorated state trooper with eight years of service who has taken part in two other officer-involved shootings in the past three years, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the incident.

Though state officials have yet to publicly identify the shooter, others have confirmed it was Trooper Chad Lavoie of Troop B who opened fire on Wendy Lawrence shortly before 7 p.m.

Lawrence, who had been on the run after fleeing the scene of a traffic stop on Interstate 89 in Bow, was transported to a nearby hospital and was later pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed she had been struck four times, including once fatally in the chest.

The attorney general’s office and state police declined yesterday to confirm the trooper’s identity or comment on whether Lavoie has been placed on administrative leave since the incident.

According to official documents, Lavoie joined the state police in 2005 and served eight years before that with the U.S. Marine Corps, where he “received extensive firearms training” and education on the use of deadly force.

Lavoie was one of five officers who shot and killed an armed suspect in Pelham on Oct. 22, 2011. The 21-year-old victim in that case had been on the run from Massachusetts, where he was wanted for physical assault, according to a state investigation into the incident. After being rammed by a police cruiser on Hobbs Road, the suspect exited his vehicle, held a handgun to his head and began pleading with several officers to shoot him. They told him to put the weapon down. He refused.

Lavoie and the other officers opened fire on the man after he turned the gun on some of them and began approaching, the investigation found. Lavoie later told authorities he thought he’d shot at the suspect five or six times.

The attorney general’s office concluded in a report later that year that the officers’ actions had been justified, stating they “reasonably believed that they or others were in danger of death or serious bodily injury.”

The shots were warranted, the report continued, given the suspect “was armed with a deadly weapon, the threats he made to use his gun on himself and the police, his failure to comply with police commands to drop his gun and surrender, and his aggressive movement towards police officers as he lowered the gun from his head and pointed it in the direction of some of the officers.”

Only five months before the October 2011 incident, Lavoie had taken part in another officer-involved shooting, this time in Manchester, though in that case he never opened fire on the victim, according to an attorney general’s report.

That incident involved a 50-year-old man accused of molestation and rape who had barricaded himself in his apartment with a 12-year-old girl, resulting in a two-day standoff with the police.

Lavoie was one of seven state police SWAT members stationed in an armored vehicle abutting the apartment. When a trooper tried to insert a pole with a mirror on the end directly from the vehicle through a kitchen window, the man grabbed the pole and a struggle between him, the trooper holding it and Lavoie, who grabbed on, ensued, the report said. The man pried the mirror free and shattered it on the ground, resulting in a sound another trooper in the vehicle mistook for gunfire. That trooper, and only that trooper, opened fire.

Lavoie was also involved in a 2010 incident that went to trial, in which he accused a Manchester man of dragging him a short distance along Interstate 93 during a traffic stop. Lavoie testified that the man had appeared angry and was swearing at him during the stop. When Lavoie moved to hand him the ticket, the man grabbed his wrist and arm, pulled him toward the car and began driving away, he said.

Lavoie said he was dragged for about 10 feet. He was not injured in the incident.

The defendant disputed the entire allegation, arguing that Lavoie had attacked him inside the car after he threw the ticket down and started to drive away. Lavoie grabbed his shirt and tried to pull him from the vehicle, the man testified.

After less than an hour of deliberation, a jury found the defendant not guilty.

Lavoie has also been commended for his service on the force. At the Congressional Law Enforcement Awards held last October in Concord, he was one of several police officers honored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen and Congressmen Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta for going “above and beyond the call of duty.”

“This award recognizes the heroism and sacrifice made by officers in extreme circumstances, especially officers who put their lives in harm’s way to help others,” a statement at the time read.

It’s unclear specifically why Lavoie was nominated.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)


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